Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) is more than just a product. It is a collection of integrated solutions – such as video conferencing, instant messaging, content sharing, voice calling, online presence, and so forth – that improve the user experience and increase efficiency and productivity.
The 2020 pandemic was the petri dish that UC&C needed to flourish. When face-to-face meetings and conversations had to be replaced by their virtual counterparts, companies learned that an effective communications and collaboration strategy could help them keep their businesses afloat.
Although it gained traction during the pandemic, UC&C has proven to be much more than a passing fad. From healthcare and entertainment to finance and education and everything in between, industries have adopted UC&C to tackle various needs. Over-the-top (OTT) providers have refined their platforms with functionalities and services to meet the most common and pressing needs. But there is still room for tailored offers that truly satisfy the requirements of specific niche markets, and that's where CSPs can play a big role.
While the importance of CSPs has never been greater than in today’s “always connected” world, their financial results have not reflected their key contributions to making widespread connectivity a reality. As commodity providers that are often too large to react swiftly to technological trends, CSPs found themselves mired in an arms race for the newest network technology, with every iteration being more expensive than the previous one. But now, CSPs have an opportunity to break that cycle because they have a number of key advantages over OTT providers in the UC&C space—and the table is set for them to get back into the race.
Competitive Edge: The CSP Advantages with UC&C
CSPs are built for data sovereignty
In response to data privacy laws and regulations, more and more companies require their data to be stored in their customers' country (or region). Because of the local/regional nature of their business, CSPs are better suited than most of their competitors to offer UC&C solutions that comply with strict data sovereignty requirements and ensure that all that data is handled and stored in the right place.
CSPs understand the needs of their customers
CSPs have been around for a long time and are geographically close to customers. As a result, they typically have a deep understanding of the specific and unique needs of their customers That means that CSPs can offer something that the broad-brush OTT platforms cannot—tailored solutions that are focused on specific industries and customer companies. With this focus, solutions can enable those customers to provide the right set of features to their users—helping to reduce churn and drive revenues.
CSPs have deep customer relationships
CSPs have been providing services for many years, allowing them to build strong household brands. Thus, they have an opportunity to build on their reputation for trustworthiness and reliability, right from the start, as they explore new UC&C offerings.
CSPs own the networks and infrastructure
As providers of the backbone for UC&C and many other services, CSPs can offer competitive prices while providing services with the highest quality—a clear edge over OTT providers. Similarly, as national (or even regional) providers, they have an opportunity to expand their offerings with additional services that pair traditional voice plans with UC&C tools.
CSPs can take advantage of flexible customization
CSPs can now modify apps and services—and even respond to specific feature requests—through simple and intuitive building blocks, such as those in Telecoms Low Code. For example, some customers might want to integrate their UC&C solution seamlessly with their own systems. While OTT products are too general and standardized to completely satisfy the requirements of smaller industries, CSPs equipped with Telecoms Low Code can react quickly to the changing needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and offer solutions that can constantly be adapted to their businesses.
CSPs can enable individualized communication services
In addition to providing specific functions to customers, CSPs can also provide services that help customers with:
- Branding. CSPs can customize solutions to make them on-brand with a customer's identity.
- Customizable UIs. What suits one group of people might not suit another, and a tailored user interface can help CSPs deliver the right solution for each customer.
- Integration. By helping to integrate UC&C tools with customer relationship management (CRM) systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and many other third-party applications, CSPs can help their customers consolidate their UC&C tools into a single platform. This simplifies their technology stack and makes their processes more efficient.
While OTT solutions currently have a large slice of the UC&C market, CSPs that are willing to offer their own individualized solutions have an opportunity to generate new revenue streams and enhance customer retention and acquisition in their businesses. By offering individualization options and much-needed local data storage, CSPs can cater to the profitable SME market that OTTs neglect.